It’s interesting to me the difference that people can make in our lives without us even noticing it at the time. I’m reminded of a person during my teens, who I felt like was always in my court. This person was a good friend of my family, and she always had something good to say to me. As I reflect on that time of my life, I think of the well-known Maya Angelou quote, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel”. Mrs. Miller always made me feel valued. She noticed things about me that others did not. She thanked me for things that it felt like nobody else noticed, and she overlooked the things that really weren’t so thankworthy. And, probably without knowing it, she really made a difference in the life of a kid who was struggling through all the things kids go through growing up.
I admire this quality. If you live in the same world I do, it seems like we could use so many more of these people. What if we all were experts at building people up and recognizing people for the good they do? Well, I think the world would be a different place.
What is the key to being this type of person? There may be many, but I think often a person who builds others up operates from thankfulness. They see the good in the things around them and express thankfulness. Their encouragement to others is just an extension of their thankfulness. What makes a person sincerely thankful? I think it comes from deep within.
5 Qualities of Thankful People:
1. Selflessness. Let’s face it, many of us are focused on our agenda, our tasks that need completed, our busyness, our backlog, our schedule, our work, our kingdom to build, and everything that points inward to our own lives. People who are thankful often have the same agenda, but they have a different attitude. It is not one of self. It is one of humility. They recognize the importance of others even over their own. Rather than protecting self, they serve others.
2. Loss of entitlement. True thankfulness means not feeling entitled. If we feel like others, the government, or God owes us something, we tend to complain instead of be thankful. If we feel everything is a gift, we are always thankful.
3. Purpose. To be thankful often means recognizing a purpose in life. Why be thankful if you don’t have a purpose? A belief in God and grace is really a recognition of the need for God and acceptance of His purpose. In turn, our hearts are filled with thankfulness.
4. Awareness. Thankful people take time to notice. They see other people for who they are rather than just a stepping stone to accomplish something. In our hurried lives, it is so easy not to notice. It is a discipline to stop and be aware.
5. Compassion. Our circumstances are so much better than so many others. When we see that and recognize that, thankfulness must rise. And in turn, thankfulness must turn to compassion for those around us and in need.
I have a challenge for you. This week, after the holiday festivities, pick three people who you have not thanked enough, or who are often overlooked. Send each of them a personalized note, text, or email. It sounds easy, yet often, is not.
Here are 5 Tips to Say Thank You:
1. Start by letting them know you appreciate them as a person. “John, I really appreciate you.” Don’t add anything, even though you will be tempted to.
2. Leave out the negative. For some reason it is so easy to turn something good into something not so good. Don’t say thank you but, and, except for. Just say thank you.
3. Be specific. After stating that you appreciate them, compliment them by naming a specific instance. Or, name a specific quality like always having a smile, or their loyalty, or their ability to problem solve.
4. Don’t stop there. If possible, tell a short story that backs it up. “I’m reminded of the time that you did x,” and this is just an example, you operate this way all the time.
5. Simple Gratitude. End the note or in person talk with a simple Thank You.
Let’s give this a shot…
Jared, I appreciate you. You have made yourself a key asset to our team here at CTaccess by being willing to take on anything. When we were trying to figure out how to cover lunch schedules, you volunteered to cover lunches every day and take your lunch early or late. This isn’t just a onetime thing. You consistently volunteer and have a can-do attitude that improves our team and rubs off on all of us. Thank you!
Expressing thankfulness has a huge impact on us and the person we are thanking. Have you experienced that warm sense of well-being when you expressed gratitude to someone, and you knew it had an impact on them? Our human condition is one of looking for significance. A simple thank you can help fill that need.
The other interesting thing is that often a few words of thankfulness produce more of a good thing. What we recognize tends to grow. People either consciously or subconsciously adjust their focus to things that produce positive results. Want more enthusiasm, recognize people with thanks for enthusiasm. Want more attention to detail, thank people for their attention to detail. Be careful though, if you are trying to manipulate the system, people will see right through it! Insincerity is like bad breath, people notice it even before you do!
I encourage you to activate and apply this in your own life, and if you can, keep it going for more than just a week. I believe it will make an incredible difference!